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Assistant Programme Director Partnerships – Yvonne Freeman

Why are partnerships so important?

The world is changing rapidly and we are constantly presented with new challenges.  We cannot address all of the challenges alone and it is becoming increasingly necessary to work with others in partnership in order to address all of the issues we face.

The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 2015 replaced the eight Millennium Goals and cover a wider range of global issues to be addressed.  The SDG’s have presented many opportunities for organisations to collaborate internationally, nationally and at local level and to and work more closely by establishing partnerships.

Goal 17 – Partnerships for the Goals aims to ‘Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development’ and it underpins the other 16 goals.    Target 17.17 of the goal aims to ‘encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society organisations building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnership’.

There is much evidence throughout the world of governments, non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations and local communities coming together in partnership in order to address the aims and objectives of the SDG’s.

What are the values of establishing partnerships? 

Working together can create significant value added towards the objectives of each partner:

1)      Access to a wider range of knowledge and resources

2)      Increase in technical knowledge and delivery capacity

3)      Sharing of knowledge and access to communities and people

4)      An increased ability to organise and engage people with projects and advocacy

5)      A heightened awareness of each organisation resulting from options for wider publicity

In the foreword to the UK’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) carried out in 2019, Rory Stewart, Secretary of State for International Development, noted the importance of partnerships in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals:

“The vital role of partnerships is a thread throughout the report: preparing it has proven beyond all doubt just how much sustainable development depends on us all, not just governments.  The examples and cases studies underscore that everyone has an important role to play, including civil society, the private sector, research and academia, parliamentarians, communities and individuals”.

Three of the key cases studies included in the VNR under SDG17:

  • The ‘Centre for Disaster Protection’ was established in the City of London in 2018 in partnership with the World Bank.  Through this initiative the UK works closely with the private sector to reduce the impact of natural disasters and speeding up resilient recovery (on a global basis).
  • Scotland’s Sustainable Development Goals Network is a growing coalition of over 300 people in organisations from across Scotland to make sure the Goals become every Scot’s business.
  • The South Wales – Sierra Leone Cancer Care Link is a partnership between health professionals from three Welsh Health Boards, the Ministry of Health and several hospitals in Sierra Leone.  This partnership established the first cancer care registry in Sierra Leone and doctors from both countries learn from each other through sharing patient cases and treatment.

There are indeed some excellent partnerships established around the world to address the SDGs, but  still more need to be created and the work of civil society organisations like Soroptimists is and will continue to be crucial if we are to achieve the goals.

Awareness of the SDGs and their importance in saving our world as we know it is sadly lacking in many countries.  A global survey carried out by the World Economic Forum in 2019 revealed that 74% of adults globally are aware of the SDGs.   However, Great Britain and Japan ranked the lowest in terms of familiarity with 51% having never heard of them, whilst in China and Turkey 90% and 92% respectively had heard of them.

Clearly, there is still a lot of work to do in order to heighten awareness of the SDGs and their importance to our and future generations’ lives and well-being.  Working together in partnership at all levels both nationally and internationally is vital if we are to make further progress.

The arrival of the COVID19 pandemic and its subsequent impact on the world has made achieving the goals even more challenging.  The world economy has been turned upside down resulting in less funding available to support the advancement of the SDG’s.

How can Soroptimists step up to the challenges in order to make a difference?

  1. Continue the good work we are currently doing in partnership with other organisations.
  2. Develop more partnerships to increase the opportunities for new projects and, at the same time, raise our profile.
  3. Heighten awareness of the SDG’s by talking about them to friends, family, work colleagues and relevant businesses and organisations  This in turn could lead to more partnerships.

Soroptimist members are already actively playing their part in the work required to achieve the SDGs.  With excellent examples of clubs forming partnerships for projects e.g. good health, gender equality, the environment, high quality education, clean water and sanitation, climate action and peace and justice.   More recently, with regards to COVID19, clubs have been working in partnership within their local communities to support victims of the virus, their families, frontline organisations and people who are shielding or confined to their homes for other reasons.  It is clear from the feedback from the beneficiaries that their efforts are very much appreciated, not only by individuals but also the organisations supported, some of which are working in partnership with the clubs concerned.

How do we move forward to create more partnerships?

When starting a new project in conjunction with another organisation, clubs should consider whether both organisations would:

  1.  be actively working on the project
  2. be willing to share knowledge and good practice
  3. benefit from entering into a partnership.  For example each organisation could gain

increased acknowledgement of their efforts and raise their public profile.

If the answer is ‘yes’ to all of the above, then a partnership arrangement should be seriously considered.  (Note: a partner is someone who you are actively engaged with in carrying out a project, not someone that you fundraise for or donate to.)

If clubs are already partnering, or considering partnering, with another organisation on a project or a number of  projects, and wish to have a form of written agreement,  they can use the template Letter of Agreement  in order to establish the responsibilities of both parties.  However, if clubs feel that having a written agreement is too formal and that their existing arrangements work well, then there is no reason to formalise the arrangement but it is important to acknowledge their partnerships when reporting on projects.

Get involved, join Soroptimists and make a difference.

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